Helpful tips or advice?

prezdeadFebruary 1, 2012

Brand new to citrus and these forums! Just recieved my clementine tree in the mail today. Planted it in some miracle grow citrus soil with rocks on the bottom for drainage.

I was wondering if anyone could offer some helpful tips or advice. Thanks in advance!

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After reading some stuff. Is it better to loosen up the roots or does that not matter to much?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 6:47PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Yep, it can matter; it's a good idea to untangle roots, or do some root pruning, or simply slice into the root ball. Some people are soaking the root system to untangle, but I must admit that I've never done that.

Also, rocks on the bottom do nothing to promote drainage, but simply decrease the growing area for your roots. If you are going to use the MiracleGrow stuff, just make sure that your drainage holes in the bottom of the container are adequate. To keep the potting medium from leaving the pot when you water, simply use screen on the bottom of the pot before you put your potting mix in. I use the plastic grid that is sold for needle point. It last forever, and the holes are large enough that they don't get clogged. Any fine particles that run out the bottom are too small, anyway.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 9:57PM
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Great thanks for the tips! I went ahead an loosened up the roots.

Hoping for the best with this plant as its my first REAL plant.

Another thing. It's MAYBE about a foot tall. The place I got it from said to put it in a 1 gallon pot. But I believe mine is a 5... Is that TOO big for that size plant or does it just give it more room to grow?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 10:22PM
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If you are working with MG soil, a pot just a tiny bit bigger than the root ball is ok. One larger than that will cause your mix to stay wet too long causing future issues.

Where do you live? What zone? Will you be putting your tree outside?

Is it too late for you to purchase perlite and add it to your potting mix?

Welcome here. Once you are successful with this tree, oh, you'll be back for another one:-)


    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 5:30AM
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I live in Michigan so it'll only be put out in the summer. Maybe I'll have to pick up a smaller pot after work today. As for perlite, the mix says there's some in it. Would it help to add more? And can ya add TOO much?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 6:39AM
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If you want to stick with Mg, then I would buy a bag of perlite and mix 1 part of the M.G. to 4 parts of perlite so that the M.G is a tiny fraction of your mix.

Your goal is to achieve as much drainage as possible without fear of over watering, pest and salt issues, and compaction of your mix which can happen quickly with the mix right out of the bag.

The faster the mix drains the better, and the more often you can water without fear of root rot, the healthier for your tree. You live in an area that does forces you to winter your tree indoors and when outdoors can be exposed to lots of rain. This fear of root rot that a very fine mix can contribute to will be such a relief to you if you get your tree started the right way.

I can get into why I use lots of bark with very little perlite and peat, or very porous gritty mixes for mine, but I will link you to a couple of very good readings/articles to help you understand the 'concepts' of growing your trees in a very good mix and how to keep your trees in tip top shape.

Soil discussion......Look up this one and then the linked one. You will learn a lot.


Here is a link that might be useful: Container soils

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 3:08PM
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Thanks!I'll read through that. Now as for "food" the closest thing I could find to what I've seen suggested is something that's 8-5-5 that's advertised as for tomatoes and whatnot. Would that work or is there something you would suggest to be better?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 7:06PM
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I use Foliage Pro from Dyno-Gro

But many here use other fertilizers that work well.
I never use any fertilizer with a higher middle number though.

Sounds like your on the right path:-)


    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 7:56AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I agree with the others.

Prez, did you remove the layer of rocks in the bottom of the container?


    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 10:24AM
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Sure did josh and mixed in a bunch of perlite too. Also put it in a smaller pot. Thank you all so much for your help!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 4:58PM
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Do Clementines need a pollinator?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 8:34AM
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As a relatively new citrus person, I can tell you some of the mistakes I made and what was done to fix them. I started with the MG citrus mix and really had some water retention issues. I went to the 5-1-1 mix due to weight and ease to put together and it really helped with drainage.

One of the things that I failed to do was to put some small blocks between my pot and saucer. The blocks help keep the pot from any sitting drain water and also makes it easier to get excess water from the saucer. With the fast draining soil I have drainage immediately.

The other problem I really fought with was the fear of over watering my plants and I over compensated by not watering enough. I really caused some stress and one death by not watering enough. I use a small dowl to check for dampness. I may be wrong, but it is really hard to over water with good soil.

Be patient, ask questions, and read a lot

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 3:33PM
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Yea I was thinking bout that mix but I have no idea where to get the stuff around here. I tried going to some "garden" stores. But those just seem to be for growing weed lol. So I've given up on those

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 4:04PM
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I found everything at a local garden center. The only item that was a bit hard to find was the small bark. I bought the smallest particles I could find and then ground them on the driveway with a bat. That got them to about he right size pretty quick.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 5:58PM
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Arkberry, wouldn't just using perlite work just the same then if your just grinding down the bark??

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 11:35AM
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Not sure, that would be a question for the more advanced. I was just trying to get the bark to a small size like the directions said

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 1:35PM
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Oooh ok

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 2:33PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Prez, what do you mean? *Just* Perlite as your mix?

The bark is selected because it is an economical, fairly light-weight filler.
It is very slow to breakdown due to its lignin and suberin content, it has a good amount
of moisture retention, and it is acidic. Perlite holds moisture externally, but not internally,
therefore it displaces a certain amount of moisture and holds the mix open, plus it is durable.
The peat or potting soil component helps to "bind" the other ingredients and build an acceptable
amount of moisture retention into the mix.

The concepts behind why we select these ingredients are more important than the ingredients themselves.
Once you understand how each part works, then you can substitute ingredients and adapt mixes to
your particular growing conditions - "All gardening is local..."

If you were to use pure Perlite, you would need "coarse" grade Perlite that is screened and rinsed
to eliminate the smaller particles and dust. You would also need to stay on top of watering and
fertilizing. I've never done this, however, so I'm no expert.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 2:46PM
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Nooo not JUST perlite lol I meant instead of doing all that work with the bark, just using perlite instead.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 8:17PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I'm still not getting what you're saying, and I really want to know.

If the bark is too large, the smaller particles will separate and migrate in the mix.
Particle uniformity is another key principle behind a good container mix.

Can you explain your question further?


    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 9:09PM
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Sorry josh. Now that I finally got to reading all about the 5-1-1 mix I see that the bark is the main part. So now to myself, my question looks really dumb lol. I think I'm gonna go ahead and give the 5-1-1 a shot as I feel that the soil my tree is in now is retaining way to much water.

My only question is, is the bark that you can find at home depot, sold for landscaping, the same bark that would be used in this mix?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 10:06PM
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Nevermind, I have answered my own question there :)

Kinda excited to start this little project!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 10:36PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Very good!

Bark is often the most difficult ingredient to locate.
The fellow who taught me (and numerous others) about the 5-1-1 mix actually lives in Michigan.
His name is Al, and he goes by Tapla at this Forum. He should have some ideas as to where, and when,
to get the best bark.

In the meantime, let's see if we can help you with that water-retentive soil.
Has anyone mentioned using a "wick" yet? Basically, you stuff a fiber/string/thread
up through the drain-hole, and let it dangle freely below the container. This will "trick"
the water into flowing out of the lowest layers of soil.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 11:00AM
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Maybe I'll have to give that wick trick a try. But a question first. I found this at lowes tonight. Only thing I don't know bout is the charcoal... Would this work for now?? As I can't find the bark/"soil conditioner"

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 7:20PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Prez, I suspect that the Orchid Mix will still have too high a percentage of peat.
However, if you can find "Orchid Bark" in fine-grade, that will often be a suitable ingredient.
The only downside is that it tends to be expensive.

You are correct, though, that Orchid Mix is better than generic Miracle Grow.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 8:42PM
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Yea that stuff said it has "chunky" peat in it... whatever that is! Lol. I bought some sphagnum moss though so when I DO find the bark.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 9:33PM
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